Tuesday, January 22, 2008
Carmel on the Case: iPhone Bill
There's no doubt the iPhone is a ground-breaking device, but for one South Florida family an iPhone bill made it a budget-breaking device. Investigative reporter Carmel Cafiero is On the Case.
WSVN -- People stood in line to get their hands on the new iPhone, and they are amazing. From instant access to YouTube, to text messaging, to Internet access, not to mention music and pictures and, of course, phoning.
The iPhone delivers a lot in a little package, but when the bill arrived for his teenage son's iPhone, John Pepper couldn't believe it. The charge was $3,732.89 for one month.
John Pepper: "When I talked to the first guy he said, 'You've got another bill for about $4,000 coming.' I said, 'Oh, boy.'"
Carmel Cafiero: "And you're smiling, but this isn't funny."
John Pepper: "It's not. That's a smile of desperation, you know."
Pepper is a professional engineer, he was at the scene of the Oklahoma City bombing and the 9/11 tragedy as a volunteer with the Miami-Dade Urban Search and Rescue Team, but now he needed someone else's help to correct that big bill.
John Pepper: "He just said it was data access."
Pepper says he learned his son was being charged per byte for data access, not the $30-a-month unlimited access plan AT&T offers.
Take this popular YouTube video called "The Evolution of Dance." Pepper says he figures if he was charged per byte it would have cost his son $44 just to watch it.
John Pepper: "Yesterday I was told by a lady up there that when she spoke to a supervisor that, no, if I wanted my money back I got to get it from my son."
Chase Pepper: "I kind of got scared of what might happen to me."
Seventeen-year-old Chase Pepper was so upset he offered to sell his pride and joy, his truck, in order to pay the bill.
John Pepper: "That broke my heart, and I said, 'No, I'm not going to do that. This is not a boy's fight. This is a man's fight."
Carmel Cafiero: "Once Seven News contacted AT&T, we were able to track the trouble and that led us here to the Plantation office where the phone was activated."
AT&T says an employee made a mistake and put Chase on the wrong data plan, and, in a written statement, AT&T added, 'The charges he incurred were the result of human error on our part, and we have taken steps to ensure his experience is not repeated.'
It appears someone else has made a similar human error. This young man went on YouTube to complain about his $4,000 bill, which, he says, is also related to his data plan.
So iPhoners, make sure you know what plan you're on. For the Peppers, at least it has ended well.
John Pepper: "They said they were wiping out the bill, and it was just a mistake. Basically, they said he had an iPhone without an iPhone data plan."
Today Chase has the $33-a-month plan and his truck.
Chase Pepper: "Really glad because I worked a lot on that and spent a lot, many thousands of dollars, on that truck."
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